– New Zealand households are now spending an average of $238 per week on food, a lift of nine per cent on a year ago.
– Grocery shopping behaviour is broadly consistent with last year, but more Kiwis now say they would choose lower-priced imperfect fruit or vegetables over more expensive regular-appearance vegetables.
– The number of vegans in New Zealand has fallen while less Kiwis now say they are planning to reduce meat consumption.
– Use of food delivery services like HelloFresh and Uber Eats has plateaued after several years of strong growth.
Research by Rabobank and KiwiHarvest – completed in August – has highlighted Kiwi households are spending significantly more on food and that our food purchasing and consumption behaviours continue to evolve.
Rabobank Head of Sustainable Business Development Blake Holgate said the research – part of a wider study undertaken by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank and food rescue charity KiwiHarvest – found the average New Zealand household is now spending $238 per week on food, nine per cent more than they were in 2022.
“Recently released Stats NZ data1 found food prices were up by eight per cent in the year to September, so it’s not surprising to see the average household food spend rising by a similar percentage,” he said.
“At the top end, the survey found there’s been a sizeable increase in the number of households now spending more than $300 per week on food – up to 21 per cent from 15 per cent previously. While, at the other end of the scale, there are now fewer Kiwis saying their household spends $200 or less per week on food – down to 53 per cent from 59 per cent previously.”
Despite rising prices, the survey found New Zealanders’ grocery shopping behaviours were largely in line with a year ago.
Most Kiwis continued to favour doing a main grocery shop and then ‘top-up’ shopping as necessary (72 per cent), with a further 19 per cent saying they do a ‘main grocery shop’ and no ‘top up’ shopping. The remaining 10 per cent say they only grocery shop as they need things.
Mr Holgate said the survey did, however, uncover a few minor changes in shopping behaviours which are likely to have been motivated by a desire to keep the weekly food bill down.
“As part of the survey, participants were shown images of two carrots which were exactly the same inside – one which was imperfectly shaped and cost $1.30 per kilo, and another with regular appearance which cost $3.99 per kilo – and asked to nominate which they are more likely to purchase,” he said.
“And the survey found more Kiwis are now opting for the cheaper, imperfect option (47 per cent from 40 per cent previously) as opposed to choosing the more expensive, and regular-shaped option (37 per cent from 45 per cent in 2022).
Mr Holgate said this indicated a growing preference for lower-priced imperfect fruit or vegetable options, which was encouraging for a number of reasons.
“Imperfect fruit and vegetables provide the same nutritional benefit as their regular-shaped counterparts, yet they can often be purchased for a significantly lower price and therefore provide shoppers with a great alternative to help keep food costs down,” he said.
“Improved attitudes towards misshapen fruit and vegetables are also likely to help reduce the amount of fruit and vegetables thrown away, thus reducing food waste and its associated negative environmental impacts.”
Less vegans and fewer Kiwis planning to reduce meat consumption
When it came to New Zealanders diets and food consumption behaviours, the survey found a sizeable fall in the number of New Zealanders identifying as vegan.
While the percentage of vegetarians was unchanged at nine per cent, the number identifying as vegan dropped to three per cent (from five per cent in 2022).
The survey also found there had been a dip in the percentage of Kiwis saying they were planning to reduce meat consumption.
“Across recent surveys, we’ve seen around 30 per cent of respondents saying they are planning to reduce meat consumption, citing a range of reasons for doing so – including perceived health benefits, the cost of buying meat, and a desire to reduce the impact on the environment,” Mr Holgate said.
“These reasons continue to be the key drivers for Kiwis who say they are looking to reduce the amount of meat they eat, however, the survey data does suggest attitudes towards meat may be changing. Only 25 per cent of New Zealanders are now saying they are planning to reduce meat consumption, while at the other end of the meat-eating spectrum, nine per cent of Kiwis now say they plan to eat more meat (up from seven per cent previously).
“And when we dig a bit deeper into this data, we find these percentages are much higher among those in younger generations, with 17 per cent of those in Gen Z saying they plan to eat more meat and 14 per cent in Gen Y.”
Food service apps usage stable
The survey also found food service app usage appears to have stabilised following several years of strong growth.
“We first started asking about food app usage in 2019, and across recent surveys there has been a clear trend towards increased app usage,” Mr Holgate said.
“In particular, HelloFresh has recorded exceptionally strong growth since its entrance to the New Zealand market in 2018. In our 2019 survey only six per cent of Kiwis said they’d used the service in the last 12 months, but by 2022 this had climbed to one-third of New Zealanders.
“However, our 2023 survey found usage of the major food service apps has plateaued with usage stable across the three largest providers.”
The survey found 32 per cent of Kiwis said they’d used Hello Fresh across the last 12 months (from 33 per cent previously), while usage of Uber Eats was at 30 per cent (from 31 per cent previously) and My Food Bag usage sat at 18 per cent (from 20 per cent in 2022).
Among the emerging food service apps, Mr Holgate said, usage was also relatively unchanged.
“We did see more people saying they’d used Delivereasy and Food Ninja over the last year, but usage of Menulog, Woop and Food Panda was either stable or marginally lower across the same time period,” he said.
Despite consistent food app usage, Mr Holgate, said the survey also found less Kiwis saying they prepare meals at home at least once a day.
“Preparing meals at home remains the most common form of food consumption, but it continued to decline year-on-year with only 22 per cent of Kiwis now saying they cooked or prepared a meal more than seven times a week (from 27 per cent last year),” he said.
“And again, when we dig into the demographics we see major variations across the age groupings with only 10 per cent in Gen Z saying their household cooks or prepares a meal more than seven times a week, while this number jumps to 30 per cent for baby boomers.”
Among other New Zealanders, two-thirds said their household, on average, cooks or prepares a meal between three and seven times a week, while the remaining 11 per cent said their household did this only twice or less.